WASHINGTON (CNN) — The chairman of the House panel investigating Secret Service lapses has issued subpoenas to two agents who were on the scene for an early-March incident in which agents allegedly drove through an active bomb threat investigation.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, issued the subpoenas Tuesday after Secret Service Director Joe Clancy refused to make the agents available to testify before the committee.
Chaffetz said in a statement that the agents “can shed light not only on the March 4 incident involving a potential bomb just outside the White House when the President was in residence, but also on why the Secret Service appears to be systemically broken and in desperate need of both leadership and reform.”
The Secret Service has been under fire in recent months for security lapses that have involved a man scaling a White House fence and running into the residence; a drone crash-landing on the White House lawn; and the March 4 incident.
Chaffetz said the Department of Homeland Security is holding back two agents that he wanted to appear before his committee.
“Those restrictions are unacceptable. Under such restrictions, the committee cannot perform its essential duties to evaluate and propose much-needed legislative reforms for this troubled agency,” he said.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson defended the department’s decision in a release issued Tuesday night.
“I regret that Chairman Chaffetz and his staff have taken the unprecedented and unnecessary step of subpoenaing two members of the U.S. Secret Service with the responsibility for the protection of the President, his family and the White House complex,” he said.
Johnson said while top staffers, such as himself and Secret Service Director Joe Clancy are obliged to appear before Congress, agents should not be expected to.
“Director Clancy and I must fight to protect them against the visibility, public glare, and inevitable second-guessing, of a congressional hearing,” he said.